ALAN Pardew says Newcastle United MUST stop the rot at the Britannia Stadium.
Pardew’s beleaguered side have conceded 11 goals without reply in their last three Premier League games.
The club’s dismal form has heaped pressure on manager Pardew and his players ahead of Saturday’s game against Stoke City.
Mark Hughes’s 10th-placed side could yet climb above United, who are six points ahead them in ninth with five games left to play.
And Pardew – whose future is again being questioned by fans – is keen to mind the gap ahead of Swansea City’s visit to St James’s Park on April 19.
“The two home games are going to be essential for us,” Pardew said.
“But we’ve got Stoke first, and we’ve got to make sure we put in a really strong performance. We’ve got to be solid, right through the 90 minutes.”
Newcastle were beaten 4-0 on home turf by Manchester United last weekend.
The results followed heavy defeats to Southampton and Everton.
“I think we’re well aware of where we are,” added Pardew, who is without a clutch of senior players through injury including top scorer Loic Remy.
“We can play better than we did, for sure.
“If you take five players out of Man United, it doesn’t affect them too much.
“They had great players on the pitch. For us, it affects us more.”
United’s difficulties up front – the team has failed to score in 11 of its last 15 league games – have been exacerbated by defensive lapses.
Pardew feels the two are inextricably linked, with Newcastle – all too often chasing a game – having left themselves open when they’ve gone in search of an elusive goal.
“We’re getting a bit loose in trying to search for a goal,” said the 52-year-old.
“We need to tighten up and stay in the game.
“It was an example of that (against Man United).
“We got a bit loose trying to press things and work things, and they had the quality to hurt us.
“I do think we can defend better, I’m not going be to making an excuse for that, but we definitely need to threaten the goal more.”
Meanwhile, United’s Under-21 side will face Blyth Spartans in the final of the Northumberland Senior Cup later this month.
Blyth beat Ashington at the second attempt on Tuesday night to reach the showpiece, which is being staged at St James’s Park on April 22 (7pm kick-off).